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QinetiQ to provide high-energy laser system to Australian DoD

The Australian subsidiary of the UK-headquartered QinetiQ has secured an AUD12.9 million (USD8.68 million) contract from the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) to co-develop and manufacture a high-energy laser system prototype.

The laser system prototype is expected to improve the Australian Defence Force's (ADF's) defensive capabilities in a “wide range of operational environments”, the DoD said on 4 April.

Janes understands that the laser system prototype will be developed and built by QinetiQ under a two-year contract in South Australia.

The DoD said that QinetiQ will also collaborate with the Australian government's Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) to establish a high-energy laser manufacturing capability in South Australia. This capability is expected to enable the development and delivery of “laser sources suitable for directed energy applications”, the DoD added.

The contract awarded to QinetiQ is likely linked to efforts under the DSTG's Directed Energy Science and Technology Network, which is a dedicated network established in late 2020, focused on advancing directed energy weapons (DEWs) and related countermeasures.

QinetiQ declined to comment on the possible application of the high-energy laser system it will build. The Australian DoD had also not responded to Janes request for information on the same at the time of publication.

The research and development (R&D) of ‘directed energy capabilities' is a priority for the DoD, and has been underlined as one of the prime areas of investment under the DoD's Next Generation Technologies Fund.

Australia's 2020 Force Structure Plan also highlighted the need to develop DEWs for the “close-range defence of naval vessels against advanced and emerging weapon systems” as well as to “improve land force resilience by reducing the force's dependence on ammunition stocks and supply lines”.

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